STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): A jinx was lifted and a Serie A title race swung as Inter dispatched Lazio on Sunday night in the kind of clinical and professional manner that has come to be expected from them.
Goals from, inevitably, Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram either side of the break proved enough to seal a win that sends Inter four points clear of Juventus at the top of the Serie A table.
It also ended something of a Roman curse for the Nerazzurri, who hadn’t beaten Lazio away since October 2018 and suffered 3-1 defeats here in both of Simone Inzaghi‘s previous returns to his former employers.
But this clinical, ruthless outfit pounced on its chances with the hunger of ravished wolves and kept a fourth consecutive clean sheet to ensure it was another disappointing night for Lazio.
The Biancocelesti were booed off by their own fans after a seventh defeat of the season in Serie A left them 11th in the table and with just one league win in their last five.
It was a balanced start as Thuram had a shot well blocked by Mario Gila, and the injured Luis Alberto‘s stand-in Daichi Kamada forced a routine save from Yann Sommer in a slow burner of a first half.
The atmosphere intermittently exploded into a chorus of boos every time former Lazio player Francesco Acerbi, an unpopular figure among a section of the Biancocelesti support, touched the ball.
Mattia Zaccagni‘s whipped cross was dangerous but Ciro Immobile could only head wide at the back post, while at the other end Hakan Calhanoglu fired wide from a training ground free-kick routine.
Inter‘s press was causing problems as a dozy Lazio defence lost the ball a couple of times in dangerous areas but they didn’t heed the warning, as late in the first half a calamitous Adam Marusic backpass was easily intercepted by Martinez, who rounded Ivan Provedel before dribbling inside to calmly finish.
Lazio started the second half brightly when Nicolo Rovella, the playmaker with the Inter-supporting family, robbed the ball off Calhanoglu in midfield, stormed up the pitch and had a shot saved by Sommer‘s legs in a moment of wonderful individual skill.
Immobile teed up Daichi Kamada in a promising position but he sliced his effort wide as the hosts failed to make their chances count.
That profligacy was punished when Nicolo Barella picked out Thuram alone in the box and the Frenchman had the time to finish into the bottom corner.
Rather than fighting back, Lazio had Provedel to thank for keeping it a two-goal margin in the final half-hour as the Italy international denied Henrikh Mkhitaryan twice with fine saves.
The mood soured further when Manuel Lazzari was sent off for dissent late on, a bad ending to a disappointing night for an Aquile side that continues to look a shadow of the outfit that finished second in 2022/23.